Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 5 News List

APEC to focus on efficiency, not targets

NO EMISSION CUTS In a move labeled as `business as usual' by Greenpeace, APEC would not set specific gas emission targets Australia's environment minister said


Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member nations will not accept greenhouse gas emission targets to fight global climate change and creating energy-efficient economies is the way forward, Australia's environment minister said yesterday.

The Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum will focus on improving energy efficiency instead of setting gas emission reduction targets as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol did, Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.

"Most of the fast-growing industrializing economies, China being the classic case ... are not going to agree to binding targets on the basis of the Kyoto model," Turnbull said.

The comments came a day after the environmental group Greenpeace said it obtained a proposed draft declaration circulated by Australia among APEC member states ahead of September's annual meeting in Sydney.

The draft said Asia-Pacific governments have been asked to improve energy efficiency and increase forest cover throughout the region to stop climate change.

However, no mention was made of mandatory targets to cut the amount of heat-trapping gasses released by human activity into the atmosphere.

Greenpeace criticized the plan saying without binding limits, climate change will continue.

"Business needs certainty and setting targets that mean people generally need to do better just aren't going to happen," Greenpeace energy campaigner Ben Pearson said yesterday.

Turnbull said focusing on energy efficiency -- such as redesigning buildings so they are less reliant on electric lighting and air conditioning -- was the way forward.

"The battle against global warming occurs on many fronts," he said. "If you use 25 percent less energy to get the same amount of economic product, then you've naturally ... made a very significant decrease in the amount of CO2."

According to the draft, APEC would agree to "work toward the goal" of reducing energy intensity -- the amount of energy used to create a gross domestic product -- by 25 percent by 2030.

It also described an "aspirational goal" of expanding forest cover across the APEC region by 20 million hectares by 2020.

Pearson described the energy efficiency plan as "business as usual," saying improved efficiency is inevitable in a growing economy.

In May, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the UN network of more than 2,000 scientists -- released its fourth report, warning that global warming would increase the number of extreme weather events and cause more natural disasters that will hit the poor hardest.

Global surface temperatures in January were the highest since records began, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Climate change will top the agenda at the annual APEC leaders' forum in Sydney in September.

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